He pursued his passion for food before being a chef was ‘cool.’

In elementary school, Lorenzo Boni was the only boy to sign up for cooking classes.

“At the time, being a chef wasn’t cool like it is today,” Lorenzo remembers. “There was no Food Network or guest celebrities on TV.”

Becoming a chef wasn’t necessarily seen as a particularly lucrative profession either — but that wasn’t what Lorenzo was motivated by.

Just like the rest of us who find our calling to do what we love, he was motivated by one thing: passion.

Have a great, happy and fun Sunday everyone out there! Ciao! #cheflife #colander #hat #passionforpasta

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He’d always spent Sunday mornings watching his mother make fresh tortellini or garganelli — pastas local to the Bologna region where they lived — and when the family came home from church, they’d all enjoy a delicious family meal made entirely from scratch.

Many Italian people out there will recognize this as the age-old tradition known as the, capital-letter, “Sunday Dinner. “

Instead of playing on a soccer team, Lorenzo helped his dad cook for the professional team he loved. This offered him the chance to meet his idols face-to-face.

He also helped his dad throw huge dinners for friends.

When he wasn’t helping out in his parents’ kitchen, he was at his grandfather’s bakery, sneaking bites of warm pastries and other treats, as he watched them transform from dough to magic.

“I just really loved food and spending time with my family,” Lorenzo says.  

He went on to become the only boy in his family to attend culinary school.

His brothers became dentists and accountants.

And fueled by his deep-rooted passion for food, Lorenzo went on to have a highly successful career.  

He cooked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across Italy and eventually opening his own restaurant in Italy.

Chef Lorenzo Boni in the Barilla test kitchen in Chicago. Image via Barilla, used with permission.

And, today, he’s the executive chef at Barilla’s North America test kitchen in Chicago, where he is in charge of all recipe development for North America.

Taste-tester may be a job we all joke about when we snatch a forkful off a friend’s plate, but it’s serious business in the real world.

Creating recipes for Barilla’s websites, social media accounts, and the quintessential back-of-the-box recipes we all love comes with serious responsibility.

Image via Barilla, used with permission.

“It’s so different every day,” he says. “When I had my restaurant, it was a very good business, but I wanted to be able to travel, to meet new people, new chefs. That’s what I missed.” Plus, he gets to develop recipes for passionate celebrities for the YouTube show “While the Water Boils” with Hannah Hart.

Chef Lorenzo Boni’s spaghetti recipe with cherry tomatoes and basil. Image via Barilla, used with permission.

He also gets to teach kids how to cook, as his test kitchen has a series of cooking classes for children from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“We have been working with different organizations with the goal of inspiring kids and their families to spend more time in the kitchen,” he says. The goal is simple: teach them to cook healthier foods and encourage them “have meaningful time around the stove and the table with family and friends.”

After all, it was this time in the kitchen with family that helped Lorenzo discover and fuel his passion — and now, he wants to share that joy with others too.

Image via Barilla, used with permission.

“I am happy I can share my love of food with American kids, just like my father and grandfather did with me,” he says. “Those are memories that will stick with me forever.”

Lorenzo has also mastered the art of professional food photography and he uses it to share his passion for food with an even wider audience (of all ages), including the Passion for Pasta audience online, as well as tons of Instagram followers.

When it comes to following your passion, Chef Lorenzo says it’s important not to be distracted by specific, long-term goals.

What matters most is that what you do now.

“Follow what your heart is telling you to do. Just go for it.”

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